“A Steam sale!” you gasp. Or perhaps you just opened your email to discover that one of the items on your Wishlist is currently on special. Maybe you heard about a new Humble Bundle, one that contains a few gems that you have yet to play. In any of these situations, the standard emotion is, of course, joy. However that excitement can be quickly tempered by the absence of three important words: “full controller support”.
While there are those who enjoy hunching over their computers to play video games like the Quasimodos and Gollums that they are (I keed), for most of us, it’s highly preferable to lounge comfortably on our favorite couch or easy chair and enjoy a game like we would on our consoles. Indeed, in an age where every computer and television comes equipped with at least one HDMI input, what reason could you possibly have to play games with a kink in your neck and an arch in your back?
Well, even in this day and age, many developers and creators are still making that choice for us. Papers, Please, Amnesia: The Dark Descent and Kentucky Route Zero are just a handful of the prestigious and acclaimed titles to offer only one choice on how a game can be played: the fabled keyboard and mouse.
So why do developers make this decision? Well, it’s hard to say really. Some argue for the purity of the experience; as long-time PC gamers, they claim that this is the only “real” way to play a PC game. Others defend the choice by saying that the style of the game would not translate the experience properly if the keyboard and mouse were exchanged for a controller. That either of these arguments hold any real water can be called into question with instantaneous simplicity.
To say that there is a “real” way to play a game is nonsense. The whole point of this hobby, and our obsession with it is the ability to escape from our reality and create our own experience in someone else’s. That the majority of quality games offer you several options on how to accomplish your goals is tantamount to this most basic aspect of the medium, thereby outing this particular argument for the meaningless elitism that it is.
Furthermore the idea that an experience, mood or feeling of a game can only be captured accurately through one input method is absurd to the point of being offensive. Games like Gone Home, Diablo III, The Walking Dead, and a host of others created with a traditional PC archetype in mind were able to translate their gameplay seamlessly to a controller. Meanwhile, the cursor and exploratory mechanics of games like Dragon’s Crown and LA Noire only further discredit this point. After all, when was the last time you heard a console gamer chide a PC gamer for playing a Windows port of Final Fantasy or Silent Hill?
In an age where many in the desired audience spend their entire work days, and much of their free time hunched over their computer desks out of necessity, to force them to entertain their hobby in this manner is utter lazy, foolish and nonsensical. Why should gamers have to choose between their comfort and their entertainment, are we not yet in a time when we can have both of these “luxuries” at once?